Attachment quality and infant joint attention skills: Predictors of mother-toddler interactions

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Peter C. Mundy - Committee Chair


Although social attention coordination (SAC) is an important predictor of developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers, little is known about the factors that give rise to its development. Attachment quality and infant joint attention skills at 15 months were hypothesized to predict SAC at 24 months. Because there is little extant research in this area, it was unclear if the two predictor variables would uniquely predict or interact in predicting SAC. Participants were 44 typically-developing infants and their mothers from ethnically diverse middle-class backgrounds. Attachment quality did not uniquely predict SAC episodes. Several measures of infant joint attention skills significantly predicted SAC episodes. Most interestingly, an interaction between attachment quality and the infant joint attention skill 'showing' significantly predicted SAC, such that for the insecurely attached children only, more frequent 'showing' significantly predicted more episodes of SAC with their mothers. The moderating effect of attachment on the relations of SAC to developmental outcomes was also examined. Different patterns of results were found for the two attachment groups. Mothers' initiating SAC episodes by following in on their children's focus significantly predicted vocabulary for the securely attached children, whereas the frequency of child initiations predicted outcomes for the insecurely attached children. Attachment may be an important variable to include in future studies of infant joint attention skills and social attention coordination.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Developmental; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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